Last month this blog moved from shared hosting to VPS hosting by the same service provider (HostGator). It has been a long pending decision for me because the number of mini-blogs and sites that I manage has been increasing every month and the performance of my shared web server has been heading south.
Basically, I decided to sign up with a suitable VPS hosting account for my medium to high traffic authority blogs while reserving the shared hosting account for mini-blogs and landing pages. If you are planning to move to VPS, I would recommend HostGator VPS i.e. if you want to just signup and forget (or let the support team do everything for you). There are other amazing VPS hosting providers as well.
When to move to VPS?
Before deciding when to move, let us first understand What is VPS Hosting. VPS (Virtual Private Server) is a hosting solution sitting between shared hosting and dedicated server in terms of the features it offers. Basically, VPS slices your server resources vertically to allocate you certain amount of disk space, memory, processing power and bandwidth. Unlike shared hosting, your blog or website does not suffer in a bad way from major performance issues while on VPS hosting because your account has your own dedicated chunk of resources (pictures below). In shared hosting, it’s like a pool from which you consume bandwidth, disk space and processing power until it is exhausted.
Note: The pictures below are only meant for a raw comparison. Actual virtualization is a complicated topic in itself
VPS actually allocates a chunk of the server resources for your account that ONLY your domains can consume.
More over VPS allows unlimited domain hosting (like shared), multiple dedicated IPs, private name servers etc along with the option of using semi-managed or fully-managed solutions – all within your own private space. You can also decide whether you want cPanel or Plesk for your admin interface or nothing (if you are a Linux system expert that is)
In my case, I opted for cPanel (that I am used to) and two IPs and a VPS level 3 package from HostGator to begin with. It’s a fully managed service which means I do not need to do anything technical from my end to move from shared to VPS.
Moving to VPS is a decision that’s taken based on the following criteria.
- High website traffic and hence need for speed
- Your business’ branding needs – using private name servers etc
- Supportability – Full or semi-managed hosting support
- Improved security – Advanced security features, backups and monitoring
- Ability to manage your client’s hosting needs – You can create individual accounts within your VPS to provide hosting services to your clients. Just like the way reseller hosting works
- Advanced performance management options – Good hold on the server parameters for better performance
- SEO needs – Fast loading pages, dedicated IPs and private name servers seem to help the onsite SEO aspects of a website
If you get more than say a couple of thousand page visits per day, the shared hosting may not be suitable for you. Even if that’s not the case, if you are sharing your hosting space with large number of high traffic blogs or websites, you are anyhow under severe resource crunch.
Steps involved in moving to VPS
If you are on fully managed VPS package, pretty much everything is taken care of by your VPS hosting support team. Typically, the following are the steps involved.
- Backup your current hosting files & database
- Backup your email data. If you are currently using cPanel, the entire cPanel data with mail accounts can be copied to VPS with cPanel
- Create a hosting package on your VPS account with disk space and bandwidth defined
- Install your CMS and restore data
- Create DNS records for your private name servers
- Update your private name servers with your domain registrar so that your domain now points to your VPS hosting
Needless to say, it is all done by the support team and hence you just need to know how to use your WHM (Web Host Manager) interface and cPanel.
VPS Performance Tweak
Most VPS hosting services are optimized for performance. However, they also offer additional performance packs by paying a nominal onetime fee. I did not go for such a pack but kind of optimized this blog myself to load it in as low as 0.8 seconds using the W3 Total Cache plugin, MaxCDN content delivery network and Google Page speed Firefox extension.
On my shared hosting, the site was never loading under 3 seconds but now the case is different.
I shall soon write another post about how I optimized this blog for optimum performance.